Oakland Museum of California spotlights 'TURF' dancing for Black History Month

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Sunday, February 19, 2023
OMCA spotlights 'TURF' dancing for Black History Month
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Oakland Museum of California spotlighted 'TURF' dancing as part of its Black History Month Dance Battle event.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Make no mistake, Daisy Vazquez loves to perform. But Friday night was time to compete at the TURF dance battle held at the Oakland Museum of California.

"I just like putting everything out on the floor. Try to make it looks as clean as I can," said the 17-year-old dancer.

She won the ladies-only competition, which was one of a series of competitions held.

"They all do different combos in their own way, which makes it entertaining to see, which is so different from any other type of hip-hop. I feel like this is culture. This comes from the Bay Area. This is not just something you can find in L.A. or New York," Vazquez said.

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To break it down, "TURF" is short for "taking up room on the floor." Think up-tempo hip-hop, less structured, and combined with waving, gliding and floor moves. This type of street dance was created in Oakland in the 1990s.

"Turfing amplifies the culture of Oakland. It's one of the definers of the culture of Oakland," said Telice, who was the emcee for the evening.

She's going to college at UC Berkeley, which she says exposed her to the Bay Area's dance scene. As she puts it, for the museum to recognize TURFing as part of Black History Month, is a big deal.

"So much Black culture, so much Black excellence here in the Bay, for the Oakland Museum to recognize that, that's really powerful. It's really like a Black celebration," says Telice.

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One of the crowd favorites was Miguel Okami, who won an exhibition competition. He says he first learned about TURFing on YouTube. He is here from Paris.

"I am the only one TURF dancing in Paris. So, my goal is to bring the TURF culture outside the Bay, because for me, the Bay Area deserves more credit," Okami said.

Jarell "Skeeter" Boyd was one of the dancers in the final competition featuring the top 16 performers. He says he grew up in a tough part of San Francisco. He took up TURFing as a way to stay out of trouble.

"The fact that it is getting recognition and the acknowledgment that I feel it deserves is amazing to me. And I hope it goes further," Skeeter said

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